Jump Ball With God
Have you ever watched a kids basketball game? They’re all scrambling around, don’t quite have the ball under control, but they know their objective: get it in the basket. Occasionally, they pass it. Often, they shoot and miss. The tall ones get all the rebounds. This is the way it was when I played basketball as a kid, too. Except for one thing: jump balls.
In the old days, we jumped them; today, they are simply a change of possession. Oh, I understand the rule change. It really slowed down the game to have to bring that ball over to the “jump” circle, set the two competitors facing each other, then toss it up for the 50/50 possession opportunity. Inevitably, of course, the tip would go in favor of the taller player. And, at my 5 foot height, a jump was pretty much a forgone conclusion: their ball. At least today, the little guy gets awarded the ball half the time.
The tricky thing about the jump ball call today is when to whistle it. When is the game halted because both teams have equal possession? both with their hands on the ball. The recent fiasco with the NFL sub-referees and the last play of the game where the offensive player was awarded the “tie” ball – even though he just put his hands on the ball in the other player’s hands as they came down to the ground together – points out the challenge. It can be a tough call.
Sports has tons of these calls. The tie goes to the runner. The ruling on the field stands. Innocent until proven guilty. And when things can’t end in a tie, we have to make rules about how to resolve a tie score. Penalty kicks. Free throws. Fewer goals against. Or, for those head to head competitions, we analyze the living daylights out of it from 4 different angles and check 3 timing devices accurate to the thousandth of a second each trained on the same competitor. Really?
Yep. Having things end in a tie does not sit well with us. We don’t like to share.
But I think we’re meant to. And often I find it’s unclear who I’m supposed to share with, how much and in what way. That’s when I find the image of the jump ball helpful. When I give what I am holding onto to God, it’s always a jump ball. He doesn’t wrestle it away so He can have it. He doesn’t rip it out of my hands and tell me how greedy I am, or how stingy I am being. He simply holds on, until I stop struggling against him. Until I realize that what I am holding so tightly He is happy to hold with me. Or, if I insist, he will let me have it.
But when I let Him, we hold it together. It’s not a matter of change of possession. It is, after all, His -all of it. He has just allowed me to hold it. The ball he’s handed me to play with is our shared possession. All the time.
So when I consider giving something up or giving it away, especially if I am holding it exceptionally tightly and not seeing the pass which would create a scoring opportunity, God seems to say, “Offer it to me. Hold it up to me.” Imagine if I did that with everything of value in my life – which is, if I’m honest, everything that is worth my time. What if life was just one big series of jump balls with God? Not the toss it up in the air for the tallest one to tip jump ball, but just before that, when the whistle was blown and we were both holding it together. There we would be, face to face, and between us would be the ball. The object of the game. The reason for playing.
My children. My family. My resources. My gifts and talents. My very life.
“Don’t worry about holding this all by yourself,” God might say. “Let’s hold this together. It will be lighter for you this way.”
That would be quite a jump.